Manifestos: who deserves your vote?

Molly Kearney, Parliamentary ManagerMolly Kearney

This week the five main UK-wide parties published their manifestos. Manifestos set out what each party intends to do if they are the main party of government after the election. They are the parties’ bid for your vote.

Many of the commitments set out in the manifestos have been trailed before, and if you’ve read Shivani’s oldblog, you’ll be familiar with some of them. But I still think it’s worth setting out what each manifesto says about policies that could impact on deafblind and disabled people because manifestos are the ‘official’ guide to what each party would do in government.

Before I get to the manifestos, though, I’d like to plug an e-action we’re running for a few more days, which asks you to send a letter to your local papers telling election candidates that every MP will have deafblind constituents. With three weeks to the election, there’s still time (just) to get your letter published in your local paper – and it will only takes a couple of minutes! Check it out here.

Now, onto manifestos. I’ve ordered them by the date they were published and have put the key commitments in bullet points.

As you read on you’ll discover that most of the disability specific commitments made by all five parties are to do with welfare and social care . Some touch on transport. There are many more commitments in the manifestos that could impact on you, however, so I’ve included links to the full manifestos in each section heading.

It’s also worth bearing in mind that we could end up with another coalition government, or a minority government . If this is the case, the relevant parties will have to negotiate to come up with a programme of government, which could involve losing many of their manifesto commitments in pursuit of compromise.

I hope you’ve found these summaries useful. Happy voting!*

*And if you haven’t registered to vote yet, you have until 20 April.

Labour

If in government, the Labour Party will:

  • Integrate health and social care into a single service ‘to meet all of a person’s health and care needs’;
  • Help vulnerable older people, disabled people and those with complex needs ‘to have more control over their lives with the entitlement to a personal care plan designed with them, the option of personal budgets and a single named person to coordinate care’;
  • Ensure teachers receive better training for working with children with special educational needs and disabilities;
  • Abolish the bedroom tax;
  • Reform the WCA and ‘focus it on the support disabled people need to get into work’. An independent scrutiny group of disabled people will play a central role in monitoring it;
  • Introduce a specialist support programme to ensure that disabled people who can work get more tailored help;
  • Strengthen the law on disability hate crime.

Conservatives

If in government, the Conservative Party will:

  • Reduce welfare spending by £12bn (they haven’t said how they will impact on disability benefits);
  • Aim to halve the disability employment gap by ‘by removing barriers that stop…disabled people from participating in the workforce… we will transform policy, practice and public attitudes’;
  • Review hate crime legislation with the view to extending the scope of the law to cover crimes committed against disabled people;
  • Repeal the Human Rights Act;
  • Cap charges for residential social care from April 2016, and allow deferred payment agreements;
  • Guarantee that no one will have to sell their home to fund residential social care;
  • Continue to integrate health and social care systems, as they have been attempting through the Better Care Fund.

Greens

If in government, the Green party will:

  • Abolish the bedroom tax;
  • Support and enforce the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities;
  • Return to system where GPs and other health professionals, and not private companies, assess whether people are fit for work;
  • Increase the budget for DLA/PIP by around £1bn a year;
  • Provide further £0.5bn for free social care for adults, aged 18 – 65, who have a proven care need;
  • Retain the Independent Living Fund;
  • Raise the profile of Access to Work among smaller firms and under-served disabled people;
  • Integrate health and social care to look after carers as well as those they care for;
  • Recognise the rights of children who are disabled, and their families, in education, transition, in childcare, in healthcare and in the benefits system;
  • Recognise fully the housing needs of people who are disabled, including support with planning and obtaining housing;
  • Make it a licensing condition for taxis that drives have Disability Awareness Training.

UKIP

If in government, UKIP will;

  • Scrap the bedroom tax;
  • End the ‘unfair ‘ATOS-style Work Capability Assessments and return assessments to GPs or appropriate specialist consultants;
  • Require GPs/specialists to notify the DWP when they believe a patient is well enough to return to work;
  • Remove ‘tick-box’ and quota arrangements from sickness and disability assessments;
  • Increase Carers’ Allowance match the higher level of JSA;
  • Invest £5.2bn into social care over the course of the next Parliament;
  • Integrate health and social care;
  • Fully implement Dilnot Commission’s recommendation that individual care costs should be capped at £35k (funded by a Sovereign Wealth Fund from any tax revenue received from shale oil and gas exploration);
  • End the policy of closing special schools.

Liberal Democrats

If in government, the Liberal Democrats would:

  • ‘Simplify and streamline’ back-to-work support for people with disabilities;
  • Introduce the principle of one assessment, one budget. This will bring together PIP, ESA, a preplacement for the Independent Living Fund and health and social care entitlements;
  • Invest to clear DLA/PIP backlogs;
  • Seek to expand Access to Work;
  • Ensure disabled people who need an extra room are entitled to one in any assessment of their Housing Benefit needs;
  • Help greater numbers of disabled people work by encouraging employers to shortlist any qualified disabled candidate;
  • Continue Access for All programme, improving disabled access to public transport;
  • Tackle disability hate crime by ensuring proper monitoring of incidents by police forces and other public authorities;
  • Formally recognise British Sign Language as an official language of the UK;
  • Combine the public health, adult social care and health outcome frameworks into a single national wellbeing outcomes framework.

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